The good news is that there are options.
[This is an updated part 2 in an ongoing series. For part one, click here.]
The shirt belonging to the Tinn bunad is a roomy, lightweight cotton or linen split-neck blouse and has either a plain or embroidered standing collar and cuffs. The plain collar and cuffs are edged with looped or tatted trim. It’s not a difficult piece to make, relative to the rest of the bunad.
Below is a partial Tinn shirt form the Digital Museum of Norway. You can see the variety of trim used and the shoulder inserts. This particular shirt would be closed with a cuff link type closure made of two silver buttons.
Next is an image of a shirt from a textile exhibition in Telemark, taken by Tom Holmberg. Mr. Holmberg’s flickr.com collection has some excellent examples of the textiles from Telemark, with special attention to the details: buttons, embroidery, patterns, and accessories. You’ll notice that it is a white-on-white embroidery/cross-stitch design with snowflakes and mountains. Elegant and lovely. This one appears to be closed with both a scarf and a neck pin. (More on that below.)
I patterned my collar and cuffs after this shirt. If you go this route, with embroidery instead of a plain collar, the white-on-white should be done under very good light. I made my own pattern on graph paper first, then measured out a piece of Monaco 28-count cotton fabric a little longer than I needed. I began in the middle, then worked my way left and right until I had enough to make the collar about right. Donna Kooler’s Encyclopedia of Needlework was a great resource. I used white pearl cotton thread from JoAnne’s Fabric store and some regular white cotton floss, 3 individual strands thick for the edging. Nothing too special in the way of embroidery materials.
When the basic shirt was finished, I attached the embroidered pieces in place of the ones from the regular pattern.
Alternatively, the cuffs and collar can be trimmed with a tatted material, as mentioned. One source for this is Heimen Husflid in Norway. You will need approximately 1.5 meters/yards.
The neck can be closed with a silver Norwegian neck pin, a special silk scarf available in Norway (see Tyrihans), or with what is essentially a cuff link made with two silver Norwegian buttons. (You will need to make two buttonholes at the neck if you’ll be using this closure.) Martha Stewart has a tutorial on making cuff links this way. The two buttons should be the same style that you will use on the vest. The buttons or pins can be ordered from the excellent goldsmiths at Sando.no, located in Rjukan, not far from Tinn. (Yes, they will ship to the US. Items are made-to-order, so it takes some time.) Here is a link to the neck closures. These details will be discussed at length in a future post on accessories.
The instructions below are a translation of the free women’s shirt pattern I picked up at Heimen Husflid in Oslo in 2016. It was not written in bokmål, so it was a little tricky to translate. If you see an obvious error, please let me know! The pattern can’t be copied for sale or used in a format where the author or publisher receives any monetary gain. So, it’s free and enjoy it! Here is the Bunad shirt pattern as a pdf file. If you’d like the Norwegian original, please let me know.
Women’s Pleated Bunad Shirt
Material: 48 inches of light or medium weight cotton or linen at least 55 inches wide. Fits up to 40 inch chest. For up to 43 inches, use 52 inches of fabric.
Cutting: The measurements in the image are centimeters and the ones in parentheses are for a slightly larger shirt. “Lengda” means the length, meaning these measurements should be specific to the wearer (neck and wrist size, plus a little extra). “Bole” = body, “ermlengd” = sleeve, “skulderstykke” = shoulder insert/gusset, “halslinning” = collar, “ermlinning” = cuff, “ermlask” = underarm gusset.
First, hem the front split, preferably using a hand-sewn hem 7 1/2 inches long and ⅛ inch wide. Then edge the outside of the hem with a drawn thread needlework pattern. Draw out one thread and sew a drawn thread work over 3-4 threads. Sew a reinforced buttonhole about ½ inch from the top of the split.
Shoulder inset: Lay the inset piece and the shirt body right sides together and sew along 3 edges: 1 long side and 2 short sides. The last long side goes along the neck/collar. Sew with the inner seam toward the body. [I recommend a French seam or a flat-felled seam.] If this inset process doesn’t make sense, maybe these two images from Eva Nordlinder’s 1978 Swedish booklet “Skjortor” can help. She labels the inset corners b, c, d, e and then shows where to attach those inset points onto the shirt body. Sew along edges e to d, d to c, and c to b. Leave b to e open, as that edge becomes part of the neck opening.
Neck: The shirt is tightly gathered and pleated. Sew 2 basting stitches 1/4 and 1/3 inches from the neck edge of the body & insert. The stitch length should be about 3 mm. Use a strong thread, preferably linen. Gather by hand and finger press in place, making sure the pleats are very, very evenly spaced and sized.
Collar: Fold the collar piece in half along the length and sew the short sides, leaving ¼ inch opening. Invert. Sew the back side of the collar to the right side of the body, then fold over to the right side and pin in place from the front. Sew a row of contrast stitching on the underside of the body, less than ¼ inch from the collar- one stitch in every pleat to hold it in place.
Sleeve: Sew the sleeve seam, inserting the gusset as shown, leaving the other end open 3 ¼ inches for the cuff. Hem this cuff opening along the 3 ¼ opening. At the cuff edge, baste and pleat as with the neck. Sew the cuff piece to the sleeve, right sides together. Fold edge over twice, press, and stitch inner edge of the cuff to the underside of the sleeve. At the top center of the sleeve, there is a center fold 1 inch long, with two small pleats on either side about ¼ inch long. Sew the sleeve to the body, with the inner seam laid over toward the sleeve. [Flat-fell or French seam as above. The sleeve size given produces a very long sleeve which blouses quite a bit. It can be shortened a little if desired, probably at the top end, before the gusset is sewn on.]
Hem: Fold up lower edge, stitch. Inner seam and fold should not be more than .5 mm. [Rolled hem.]
And that’s it! These instructions are fairly scanty and assume a lot about the seamstress’s familiarity with shirt construction. (Even though this shirt is very different than any I’ve made before!)
Ingebertsen’s has a generic Norwegian folk costume, but the shirt pattern would have to be ammended a bit.
I strongly suggest using French seams or flat-felled to ensure longevity and quality. You can view tutorials here: French seams or flat-felled seams.
Voilà. Your shirt is finished!!
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I am really looking forward to seeing the full Tinn bunad on its maker. What a labor of love.
Wow. Just wow.
Pingback: Making a Tinn bunad, part 3: the skirt (stakken) | Thirty Marens Agree
Hi Maren – hello from a fellow Norwegian American; I live in Seattle. Your website is a lifesaver. I’ve been trying to figure out how to sew a bunad blouse for well over a decade; I have sewn all the other bunad pieces.
Two questions, and your site may address them and I missed it. Regarding the layout: It appears to run across the grain (selvedge to selvedge) rather than on the long grain (parallel to the selvedge). I have sewn clothing for decades, and the main pattern pieces are always supposed to be parallel to the grain. So, some clarification would be great.
Second, your final two photos under the bunad blouse directions show two views of the shoulder seam. If I understand your directions right, as well as numerous notes and diagrams I’ve made when visiting cousins in Norway, there are no shoulder seams – just the inset/gussets.
Thank you for any light you can shed!
Hi! Glad you found something useful here. Let me see if I can answer your questions.
First, I agree, usually the main pattern pieces would run with the grain, but this is an unusual pattern in many ways. The instructions I have from the shop in Oslo are not super complete and I had a lot of questions, too, but I cut them as shown in the diagram above. And, yes, the seams shown are from the very first attempt, before I had a pattern at all. The second try (with the pattern) has no actual shoulder seams. But the technique for sewing all the seams is the same. I’ll ammend the captions for the images.